Obi-Wan was not amused. These episodes with Anakin were spiraling out
of control. A pouty Skywalker would have asked, "When are you ever amused,
Master?" The question was unfair. Obi-Wan had a great sense of humor. It
had matured under Qui-Gon Jinn's careful tutelage. Obi-Wan missed his sage
master very much. A fond saying of Jinn's had been, "There is a time and
place for everything, young one."
Well, this definitely was neither the time nor the place for such levity.
The boy's attitude was discouraging.
The Padawan learner thought the caper was brilliant. Chucking the whirring,
blazing blue stab of light at those stupid, unsuspecting fountain fowl
was the most fun he'd had in a long while.
What reason did Anakin have for behaving so childishly? Such blatant
lack of respect for his teacher and the Order just wouldn't do.
Obi-Wan heaved a chest-expanding sigh, looking his young charge over
sternly before demanding the return of his lightsaber.
"But nothing, Anakin." Obi-Wan shook his head. "That will be all," he
admonished. "You'll force me to an early grave, mark my words."
The tow-haired boy balked, upset that his master, the closest thing
he'd ever had to a father, could suggest such a shocking thing. "I just
wanted to see the length of the blade when fully ignited," Anakin remonstrated.
The weapon suddenly felt heavier, more cumbersome in his grip. Was his
master causing the sensation?
"Taking my lightsaber while I was sleeping." Obi-Wan shook his head.
"That won't be tolerated. And what impelled you to hurl it through the
air as though it were some common bastaska spear?" Again, the weighty sigh.
"That weapon," Obi-Wan huffed, jabbing at his property, "can save your
life, one day. The day when you've proven yourself worthy to possess one
of your own seems a long, long way off after your prank. A lightsaber is
not a plaything, Anakin. Not only might you have maimed or killed the defenseless
temple creatures, you could have injured yourself as well."
"I'm *sorry*, Master," the lad apologized. How many times did he have
to say it?
"As many times as it takes for it to sink in, Anakin."
With that, Obi-Wan, brimming with irritation, snatched his lightsaber
away from Anakin. The teacher heard his student make several chuffing sort
of sounds deep in his throat. Obi-Wan stood thinking up a suitable punishment,
and in the next moments was unprepared for the boy's unanticipated response.
Anakin Skywalker, the undisputed winner of the Boonta Eve's Podracing
Classic, the precocious, outspoken boy who had made a regular practice
of talking Sebulba down every chance he got, burst into tears...
Unsure about what to do, Obi-Wan's thought process shut down. Finally,
he knelt beside his weeping apprentice. As he'd done so, his lightsaber
had tumbled out of his hand to clatter upon the manicured stones of the
temple grounds. The unpredicted consequence had gone unnoticed.
The Jedi put his arm around the tearful boy's shoulders. If ever a Knight
was the picture of looking distraught, Obi-Wan was a study worthy of framing.
He reached out to the child through the Force. He also reached for the
memory of his mentor...Qui-Gon.
"Anakin...Anakin." Should he be firm or concessionary with the boy?
What would benefit his Padawan most in the long run?
Young Skywalker had never cried in front of him before. When Anakin's
sobs sounded strangled, Obi-Wan knew what tact to take, instinctively,
as though at that very moment his master had whispered into his ear. "There,
there, Anakin. No need for tears. It's just that you need to heed the things
I'm trying to teach you. I'm only looking out for your best interests.
If anything happened to you, I'd be beside myself. You know that, don't
you?" Obi-Wan quaked a bit after Anakin had thrown his arms about Obi-Wan's
neck, hugging his master tight, as though for dear life. "There, there
now. It's all right...really."
"W-why can't I s-see Mom?" Anakin abruptly asked. He sounded caught
between a sob and a sniffle as he began to shudder.
Obi-Wan held him tighter. "Is that what all these recalcitrant incidences
have been about?" He felt his heart melting out from under him. Anakin
nodded against his neck, his soft mewling had replaced the sobbing. Wisely,
he hoped to to touch his apprentice's melancholy heart. He desired to touch
it in a way he had never dared to since the apprenticeship had begun.
There were always good, tangible reasons for everything, Qui-Gon used
to spout fondly, Obi-Wan soberly reflected.
"I want to see her, Master! Could I visit her, please? I miss her so
much! May we go to Tatooine? May we, huh?" All this had been muffled, spoken
into the back of Obi-Wan's neck.
Anakin's barrage left Obi-Wan dazed. The patience and forbearance of
fathers was to be admired. Anakin had not been separated from his loved
one at birth. Of course there was an attachment, an attachment that even
the vast distance of cold space would never sever.
Visitations were highly irregular, Obi-Wan knew, but not verboten. He
would speak with Mace and Yoda, first of course, but he felt sure they'd
sanction his appeal.
Clutching his apprentice hard before drawing away, Obi-Wan reached a
decision before any internal objections got in the way. He looked Anakin
squarely in his tear-stained face. His genuine affection for Anakin promted
him. "Yes, young one. I don't see why not. The visit will have to be brief,
and Masters Yoda and Windu must be consulted..."
A light Obi-Wan had never seen before set Anakin's eyes aglow. "Thank
you, Master. Thank you, oh, thank you. I've just got to see Mom. I dream
about her every night. I want to see her because I miss her so much. I
love her so much." Leaping out of his master's arms, Anakin hopped and
jigged about, chanting over and over again, "I'm going to see Mom! I'm
going to see Mom! Yippee! Yippee!"
"Highly irregular it is. This you know, Obi-Wan." Yoda flexed his ears.
The hoary hairs within them stood as though at attention. He sat on the
edge of his Council chair with his aged eyes measuring the young Jedi Knight
garbed in his stately robe.
"Yes, Master, I know. But there is good reason for the visit to his
Mace Windu, poised by the huge observatory window closest to Ki-Adi-Mundi's
vacant chair, looked out over the hustle and bustle of Coruscant at dusk.
Fully attentive to the continuing conversation, he pondered the deeper
meanings of Jedi life. When he faced around to Obi-Wan, his look was impassive.
"His request is more than meets the eye, Obi-Wan. The boy is unnaturally
attached to the woman."
Obi-Wan's heart skipped a beat, and waited. "With all due respect, Master
Windu...the woman is his mother. I have the pronounced feeling that if
he sees her, she will encourage him to buckle down with his studies and
training; make true progress. I do not feel the timely visit will be his
"Feel this strongly you do, Obi-Wan?"
"Yes, Master Yoda, I sincerely do."
Yoda beckoned to his worthy compatriot with the mere shadow of a look.
It was a look that spoke volumes of Jedi sagacity and yes, a trace of 'just
Mace nodded, leaving it at that. Yoda, by means of the Force, acknowledged
with deference, the great concession Windu had made.
"Very well, Obi-Wan. You and young Skywalker to Tatooine must go."
"Thank you, Masters." Obi-Wan wrapped his robe securely about him, then
bowed deeply. "Thank you. We shall leave tonight." He straightened up.
The smile that he had tried his best to suppress hit the solemn-faced Jedi
Masters full force. Pursing his lips, Obi-Wan bowed again, turned on his
booted heel and departed from the Council chambers with Jedi speed before
his peers had a change of heart.
"I have a bad feeling about this," Mace said.
"Feel it too, I do," Yoda corroborated.
"Then why permit it?" Windu came to stand at the side of Yoda's chair.
"The Force it was that did."
"Mom, Mom! I'm home--Mom! I'm home," Anakin brayed, sprinting away from
Obi-Wan as the targeted sand-dusted grouping of homes came into view. The
street was beginning to darken, as late afternoon melded with nightfall.
The excited boy ran up to the old familiar door and pounded his fist into
it, sounding off again.
"I'm sure she's near, Anakin," Obi-Wan tempered.
"But where is she *now*?" Anakin demanded. "We've traveled all this
way. For her not to be here when I need to see her now isn't fair." He
was about to drive his fist into the door again, when it opened. "Mom--huh?"
"Oh, my circuitry, it's the Maker!"
"Threepio?" Anakin said, amazed, squinting up at his glinting creation.
He hardly recognized the 'droid with its golden metal plating. He wondered
if Watto was responsible for the fitting.
"Yes, Master Anni. It is I," the 'droid confessed, thrusting out his
"Where's Mom?" Anakin pushed past the protocol 'droid about the house.
"She went to market, Master," C-3P0 was helpful to inform. To Obi-Wan
the machine bade, "Do come in, sir, if you please. I don't think I've had
The Jedi stuck out his hand to shake the 'droid's. "I am Obi-Wan Kenobi.
I'm very happy to meet you...Threepio." Obi-Wan stood admiring his learner's
dazzling handiwork, wishing to know, "Anakin, am I to understand that you
built this marvel? His apprentice nodded and Obi-Wan whistled. "Very impressive.
Tell me, Threepio..."
"Anakin built you?"
"Oh, yes, sir."
"From scratch?" The Knight pulled on his chin.
"Not from any previous design."
"I believe so. Master Anni is quite gifted."
Obi-Wan watched Anakin help himself to some beverage that was a beautiful
powdery blue. The blue reminded him of the downy fields of Zenyatar where
Qui-Gon had taught him how to speak the language like a native. Kenobi
seated himself at the dining table with its burnished surface. A sand-less
puff of air wafted through the small home.
"Want some?" Anakin offered, sounding as though it were an afterthought.
Obi-Wan rose, coming to inspect. "What is it?"
"Blue Milk," Anakin told him, sounding as if the drink were universally
known. It was widely known, but not universally.
"Ah, yes. But of course." He had heard of the nutrient-rich drink typical
of worlds where natural resources were scarse. As a precaution, inhabitants
of Tatooine would drink it in order to supplement their water-poor diets.
"How's it taste?" Anakin poured his master some. Obi-Wan sniffed at it,
sticking his nose into the opaque receptacle. The aroma of the pungent
liquid was sweet and flowery.
"You drink it, Master," Anakin said. "You don't inhale it." He sat at
the table and took a big gulp of his own.
"Yes, well...quite." After tasting the beverage, he took another swig.
Despite his devotion to decorum, he smacked his lips. The stuff wasn't
bad. It could have been a spot colder, though. "A bit swee--"
The door of the humble abode opened suddenly. Shmi, humming a cheery
tune, and laden with parcels that varied in size, bustled in. When her
eyes fell upon Anakin, she stood speechless for several moments, not quite
trusting her eyesight. In time, she whispered, "Anni?"
"Mom!" The smile on Anakin's face could have rivaled Tatooine's twin
sons for brilliance. He bolted from the table. His receptacle a quarter-way
full of Blue Milk went flying. Overjoyed, he filled his mother's arms as
parcels spilled upon the floor. No power in the galaxy would ever be able
to pry him loose, it seemed.
"Anni, my love, what are you doing here?" Shmi held him so hard, her
hands, roughened by hard work, were turning blue.
"I've missed you so much, Mom!"
Nodding, she acknowledged, "I've missed you so very much too, Anni."
Tears glistened in her eyes, and soon they streamed from them over her
wind- and sunburned cheeks. Anakin's face was flushed. Shmi held him away
from herself. "Let me have a look at you," she entreated, swabbing at her
face with the back of her hand. Having him home felt unreal. "Oh, my...how
you've grown, Anni." Beaming, with pride plumping up the words, she exclaimed,
"You're my almost all grown up Jedi son." She basked in her son's smile
that could have doubled for the one he'd worn that day a long while back
when he'd saved the day by winning that 'all or nothing race.'
Shmi smashed Anakin to her body again as her tears threatend to renew.
Even Obi-Wan felt his eyes misting. "I'm so glad you're here." Anakin nodded
against her waist, as her eyes focused on her son's companion. "Please
introduce me to your friend."
Easing away from Shmi, Anakin corrected, "He's not my friend, Mom. He's
my master...Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi."
Obi-Wan rose from his seat, thrusting out his hand to shake Shmi's.
"I'm so pleased to meet you, Mrs. Skywalker."
"Shmi. Please, call me Shmi."
Obi-Wan nodded with a smile. "Anakin speaks of no one else. I feel as
though I've known you for quite some time."
"The pleasure is mine." She extracted her hand from the Jedi's, looking
bemused. Shmi cast her eyes about the room, her face a mask of speculation.
"Is Qui-Gon Jinn with you?"
Upon hearing his former master's name, Obi-Wan's face fell. Shmi looked
crestfallen then, immediately sensing that something was wrong. "Oh, have
I spoken out of turn, Master Kenobi?"
Obi-Wan refused to give in to any sad memories. "No, no. Not at all."
Speaking up impetuously, Anakin said, "Mom, Qui-Gon was killed by a
Dark Lord of the Sith on Naboo." Anakin had gone to stand by his 'droid,
having wanted to inspect something that had caught his eye more closely.
Shmi looked stunned, and commiserated, "Oh, how dreadful!" Her voice
While looking C-3P0 over carefully, Anakin went on, "It happened during
the battle there. I blew up the Trade Federation's command ship." Sheepishly,
he admitted, "It was kind of an accident..."
Her eyes alighted upon the empty seat Qui-Gon had once occupied, a little
over two standard years ago. She had never forgotten the courtly Jedi Knight
who had taken a personal interest in her fatherless boy. There had been
purpose and a wellspring of understanding in everything Jinn did, she felt.
She would always be grateful to him for helping to gain her son's freedom.
Glumly, she slumped into Jinn's old seat. "How did it happen, if the recounting
isn't too painful..."
It was, but Obi-Wan briefly supplied the sad details which, to him,
felt as if his master's demise had happened ages ago. "Qui-Gon wished for
me to train Anakin. I pledged that I would."
"It must have given you great satisfaction, avenging his death," Shmi
awarded, searching the handsome young Jedi's face with tender eyes.
There was no point in correcting her viewpoint. Jedi never retaliated
out of a sense of vengeance. He sensed the sorrow in her, a sorrow that
went deeper than the loss of Qui-Gon. "I hope we were not remiss, coming
to you like this, unannounced. Anakin has wanted to be with you again for
quite some time. His training regimen doesn't allow for much leeway. There
never was a right time to come. Two prominent members of the Jedi Council
deemed now as the appropriate time, agreeing with my sentiments that he
Shmi brushed the wisps of her hair back from her face. She watched her
son fiddling with the machine she took solace in having with her to ward
off abject lonliness. Arching her question a bit, along with her eyebrow,
she asked of Obi-Wan, "Has Anakin been behaving?"
A mother knows her son, whether she be Force sensitive or not, he thought,
admiring Shmi's perceptive aptitude. "Shall we say...for the most part.
I'd be the first to attest though that he misses you day and night. Almost
to the point of distraction."
The mother called to her son. Her winsome words of farewell she had
uttered many suns and moons ago filled her mind. "Anakin..."
Anakin made a beeline for her. "Yes, Mom?"
He fitted himself into her tight embrace once more. She spoke cooing
words that she hoped would leave a lasting impression. "Make me proud,
Anni. That is all I ask."
"I will, Mom."
Gazing upon the pair, wishing to keep the image of them just that way,
always, Obi-Wan said, "He shall. I believe in him."
"I'm starving. Could you make some Telitar with Miasra sauce, please?"
Anakin had the eyes of a beggar down pat.
His mother wore a mischievous look, and her pert eyes held secrets all
their own. "Your favorite dish. As it so happens, I think I could." She
tapped her left cheek. "For the right price." Promptly, Anakin kissed her.
"Please pick those things up from the floor, dear. That would be a great
help, and I'll get started."
Obi-Wan envied the command she had over his trainee. He reminded himself...'well,
she is his mother, after all...'
"Sitro-ribee for dessert?"
"I think that could be arranged," his mother obliged.
"I hope you will find Anni's favorites to your liking, Master Kenobi."
Obi-Wan smiled warmly, unwittingly drawn into the homey atmosphere.
There was next to nothing to draw upon in his own life. "Oh, I'm sure I
shall. It's been literally ages since I've had a home-cooked meal."
Obi-Wan rolled over onto his full stomach on the narrow sleep pallet,
vaguely aware that his apprentice was crying out. The sumptuous feast that
Shmi had prepared still had him groggy. What a fine cook his mother was!
Anakin had never said so, but Obi-Wan guessed her culinary talents could
be added to the list of the things he missed her for. With a sluggish bearing,
he propped himself into a sitting position. His hand scrubbed his face.
No move did he make to stand. Before he could, a figure decidedly womanish
crowded the entrance of her son's former room.
"Anni--I'm here. Sweetheart, I'm here." She streamed to her son's bed,
continuing to vocally fondle him. She forced herself not to think about
all the times he may have cried for her and she wasn't there for him. She
looked over to the Jedi's form that was muted by the softly-lit darkness.
"He has them often, doesn't he?"
Obi-Wan, regretting, nodded. As he balled up his hands, he informed,
"He goes through phases. He'll go without them for long stretches." Anakin
twisted fitfully while locked within his mother's strong embrace. He was
suspended between slumber and wakefulness. "But then, that cycle is broken
by these episodes." Obi-Wan thought to himself how Jedi weren't given to
nightmares, as a rule. Sadly, his Padawan had them quite often. Obi-Wan
wrestled with the paradox.
Anakin shook violently, startling himself awake. He blinked several
times at the adults as though having difficulty remembering where he was.
"Anni," his mother whispered into his perspired scalp, "it's all right.
You're safe, here at home."
His breath came in puffs. "I-it was awful, M-Mom. Th-they had you. They
did te-terrible things to you." Anakin's gaze was tempestuous as he held
his mother's eyes. "You can't stay here, Mom--you've got to come with us!
You'll be safe on Coruscant." He untangled himself from her arms. He pushed
to his feet and tugged on his mother's hand. "C'mon--let's go now!"
Gently, she resisted, reining him in. She welded her hand to the side
of his jaw. "Who, Anakin? Who had me?"
Trembling, he shook his head, at a loss for any proper identification
of his mother's faceless captors and tormentors who had perpetrated such
villainy in his subconscious. "I...I" He flung Obi-Wan a desperate look.
"I..." Biting his lower lip, he admitted with a shrug, "I can't...it's
like I know, but I can't tell for sure. They're shadows...like Sand People..."
Shmi and Obi-Wan exchanged a clement look between them while she maneuvered
Anakin back into bed. "Anni, you've had a very long trip today. You're
over tired. The best thing right now is for you to go back to sleep. Tomorrow,
once you're better rested, we may talk about this dream some more, if you
Obi-Wan made mental notes, sensing his apprentice's keen agitation.
He could no more sanction Shmi's leaving to come be with her son on Coruscant
than the Council would sanction Jedi marrying. He couldn't help but perceive
a ripple in the Force, and shutting his eyes, he took a deep breath.
When he re-opened his eyes, Shmi watched him with Anakin clinging to
her. He was nearly asleep once more.
"I'm sure you're aware that he has an imagination that hates letting
up," Shmi spoke softly. "Even when asleep, it's hard at work concocting
all manner of fanciful things demanding to be tackled."
"It is hoped through training that Anakin will become more adept at
focusing...learn better patience..." Obi-Wan trailed off purposely. He
didn't wish to appear as though he were criticizing. "He is making excellent
progress," he conceded, putting a generous spin on it.
"Qui-Gon Jinn said he showed great promise." Shmi relived bits and snatches
of the discussion about her son's destiny she had had with the powerful
Jedi on her parapet.
"He most certainly does," Obi-Wan agreed. Promise that demanded the
highest degree of perseverance that would have tried even Jinn's strenght
of character, Kenobi thought with an inward sigh. Yielding though, he said,
"If he keeps progressing the way he is, he will be a great Jedi, one day."
Shmi smiled a smile borne of hope and a mother's abiding love. Thinking
her son had fallen asleep, she gently moved off his bed. Anakin whimpered,
not as deeply asleep as his mother imagined. "Mom--don't go! Stay with
me--don't go! Mom!"
This was attachment that knew no bounds, Obi-Wan considered. "I think
it would make him happy if you stayed." Continuing to whisper, Kenobi,
rising from the pallet, offered, "Take it. I'll lend you your privacy.
The lounger in the other room will suffice."
"No, please. There's no need for you to inconvenience yourself, Master
Kenobi." Her plea urged, "Remain here. I'll take Anakin to my bed. Finish
out the night in his." She bundled Anakin up into her arms and stood.
Looking hesitant, Obi-Wan considered. The look in Shmi's eyes made it
difficult for him to turn the offer down. It was simple to see where Anakin
got his spirit of determination from. "Very well, dear lady. I shall."
When Shmi stood in the doorway, she spoke in earnest, "Good night, Master
Kenobi. My son is indeed fortunate to have you as his mentor. Continue
to rest well."
Obi-Wan watched after her retreating figure. He wondered what sort of
childhood she had had. A prickly feeling of impending loss seeped into
him, which he couldn't seem to shake. Even after he had settled himself
into Anakin's compact bed, throwing the linty covers over his head, he
couldn't chase the remnants of forboding out of his mind.
It was also difficult to dismiss his wanting to make all things right
for this woman here in this tiny sector of the galaxy.
Soft-spoken, yet resilient as she was, she deserved that, at least...and
Obi-Wan opened his eyes a crack. The sound of Anakin's voice bouncing
off the walls of the bedroom blared in his ears. Shmi's meek-sounding voice
was having a hard time getting a word in. The Jedi felt sluggish, as though
his reflexes were several beats behind his impulses. He didn't sleep like
a stone often, and thought, 'must be a reaction to so much foreign food.'
His throbbing head made him grimace.
'What time was it,' he thought.
Hefting his legs to the floor, he heard Anakin object, "But, Mom, mine
was removed from here. If yours isn't in the same place, I'll ask the master
to detect it, wherever it is."
Obi-Wan took to his feet slowly. He went over to his overgarments, lying
over a workbench, and began putting them on. As he fitted his belt around
himself, and double checking the security of his lightsaber, he strained
to hear Shmi's response.
"*No*, Anakin. Trying to escape isn't right, with or without the possibility
of being blown up. Watto has been good to me."
"But, Mom, you--"
"Anakin." Her voice sounded even. "I'll have no more talk about running
away. We are Skywalkers. We do not dishonor ourselves by imitating criminals.
Remember what I told you before you left? My place is here. My future is
Obi-Wan heard what sounded like the stamping of a foot. He edged away
from the bedroom doorway. "No it's not," Anakin said vehemently. "Your
place is with me! Your future's with me, Mom! I don't want you living here
all by yourself any more!"
Obi-Wan crept his way to the food prep area.
"I've been all right. I'll keep on just that way. Watto treats me better
than most. I work in his shop now." The Toydarian practically had her running
his place ever since his family had begun making greater demands of him.
"Doing what?" the boy asked, sounding derisive, as though he expected
his mother to say that she would be competing in an upcoming podrace. "Fixing
"No...I run inventories. Straightened out his jumbled accounts payable,
my that was quite a task. Instituted a new filing system. He calls me his
"Aw, Mom, Watto's just using you the way he used to use me. He's a greedy
old slave driver."
Obi-Wan chose to show himself. "Good morning."
"Oh..." Shmi looked a little taken aback, as though she had forgotten
all about the mannerly house guest. She recovered nicely. "Good morning,
Master Kenobi. Did you sleep well?"
Quickly covering his yawn, he replied, "Forgive me." A look of circumspection
rimmed his eyes. "A mite too well. I believe it's the warm hospitality
and charming atmosphere that's responsible." Refinement and gentility oozed
A blush spread like a stain over his mother's face, Anakin was quick
to notice. He could use his master's wanting to score points with his mother
to his advantage. "Master..."
Obi-Wan's pleasant gaze settled upon his Padawan. "Yes, Anakin?"
"Tell Mom she'd be better off living on Coruscant than on this sandy
ol' dust bowl. Tell her she has to come back with us!"
Shmi stared at Anakin, appalled. "Anakin, stop it." Her sharp look was
honed. "We will not discuss this any further. Is that clear?"
"Is that *clear*?" she averred. Getting up from the table, she donned
her spillage-flap and tied it around her waist. She leveled an apologetic
look at Obi-Wan and a sterner one at Anakin. "Tatooine may not be as grand
as Coruscant, Anni, but it is home. And, although you want me to run away,
I can't do it, sweetheart. Running away is wrong. I will remain here. You
will return there so your dreams will come true."
Anakin pretended the subject was dropped for the time being. He decided
that he would go about getting her away from here some other way. He swigged
down the rest of his Blue Milk and sprang up from his chair. "I'm going
to Wald's house."
Shmi shut off the running water she was rinsing with. "You can't, Anakin.
His family moved to Mos Eisley a little over a twin lunar month ago. Jira
went along with them. She has a sister there who needed her because her
health is failing."
"Then I'll go see Kitster." Shmi smiled over Anakin's determination.
To C-3P0, who was doing some light dusting in the room visibly adjacent,
Anakin demanded, "Come on, Threepio. You're coming with me."
"Oh, very good, Sir...I would love to accompany you." The meticulous
'dorid set his duster aside.
"But you haven't eaten a thing, Anni." Shmi stood away from her fixings.
"I'll eat at Kitster's," Anakin fired at her.
"What makes you think Tapulle will want to fed you?" A knowing look
claimed her face. "She already has enough mouths to feed. Times are hard."
"I won't eat much," Anakin staked, and looked at her. "It's not like
I'm at his home every day. I bet they'll be so happy to see me, they'll
insist that I eat all I want."
"Mind your manners, Anni," she told him with an indulgent lilt.
Obi-Wan just listened, Anakin's wheeler-dealer parlance giving him pause.
He knew his apprentice was a fast talker, but his true finesse was in stark
evidence, and his mother wasn't a pushover by any means.
"If you aren't offered anything, don't ask for anything to eat. Tapulle
had a new baby not long ago...a girl. Her name is Bei. Such a beauty, like
her mother. Kitster adores his new baby sister." That made his friend's
second female sibling. Anakin tried not making a face. "Their edible provisions
are meager." In a subdued tone she said to Obi-Wan, "I help in small ways
whenever I'm able."
Kenobi knew as much without her verbal tip-off, the Force having revealed
the goodness of Shmi's heart a while before this.
Anakin breezed past C-3P0 as though the machine weren't in the room.
When the 'droid reminded him that he was to accompany, Anakin crisply stated,
"Oh, I didn't forget. Not for a minute. We have important things to do.
"Anakin," Obi-Wan interrupted, "do hurry back. We may be able to get
a brief training session in before the day is through."
"Yes, Master," he acknowledged, but his heart didn't sound as though
it were in it.
"Might I come along?" Kenobi inquired, already anticipating his Padawan's
"If it's all right with you, Master, I'd rather visit my old pal alone."
"Quite all right," Obi-Wan acceded. "I understand. Do try to hurry back."
Shmi's eyes followed her son to the door, and watched C-3P0 shut it
behind them. She turned to Obi-Wan and said, "I miss him very much, but
I know he is destined for great things."
Kenobi paid homage to her feeling by bowing slightly from the waist.
Bringing himself to his full stature, he caught Shmi beaming at him. "I'm
trying to train him the very best I can."
Shmi nodded, and her eyes told him that she already knew that. "Well,
Master Obi-Wan, I hope you're hungry."
"Oh, yes," the Jedi said politely, wondering how much more of the unusual-tasting
food he would have to endure.
"Good. It won't take long."
Looking susceptible, he nodded with his pellucid eyes of blue sparkling.
"I'm in no rush...as it seems."
"Watto--hey, Watto! Are you here?"
Not much about the dirty junked parts shop had changed. The clutter
of his former place of servitude was like seeing an old friend again. Curious
how a lot of the metallic cast-offs as well as the odds and ends were the
same things that had been there when he'd been. Watto, though, was missing
The former slave kept calling, but nobody came. Finally, Anakin told
C-3P0 to wait within the shop. He went out back to the junkyard. As he
stood in the burning light of the twin suns, he thought about how great
it had been seeing Kitster again. His mother was right about the new baby
sister; she was quite pretty for a baby. He hadn't been able to stay as
long as his friend had wanted him to.
He had something of the utmost importance to handle.
The proprietor was still nowhere on hand, so Anakin went back inside
the oil-scented shop.
"Master, might we have come at a wrong time?" Threepio asked, trying
to recall if he had ever been here before.
"It isn't like him to go away leaving the place so wide open like this."
Shrugging, Anakin decided they'd come back later. He'd pay a visit to Jira's
stalls. "Oh..." He forced his lower lip over to one side, remembering that
the pleasant old woman, whom he had always viewed as somewhat of a grandmother,
didn't live here anymore. His mother's voice echoed within his mind. When
she'd told him this earlier, he had been so preoccupied with her coming
back to Coruscant with him, that the news about Jira hadn't registered.
He nipped his looking forward to some free pallies in the bud.
"C'mon, Threepio, let's go see what Bactma's got in." The Hutt ran a
hologames concession. The business wasn't gambling-connected, and it had
the best gaming in town.
"Very good, sir..."
Anakin, with head down, set off for the doorway. Before he realized,
he nearly smacked full on into Watto who had come flapping in at precisely
that moment. The little pouch hooked through the Toydarian's belt on his
right side was bulging with freshly-won gambling winnings. Said winnings
were what one of the less fortunate Hutts had lost.
Former master and slave gawked at each other until Watto broke the silence.
"Well, well, what do you know? Look who's come back." He flapped nearer
to Anakin. "Pining for your old repairing grounds, eh? Life off-world not
to your liking, Anni?"
"Life off this world suits me just fine, Watto," Anakin told him with
scornful eyes. "I'm here to do some business. I've got a proposition for
"A proposition?" Watto pulled on his chin while the boy hopped up the
counter the way he used to. The last time he'd done so was when he'd met
the erstwhile Queen of Naboo for the first time.
Anakin trained his eyes upon C-3P0. "Yeah. A fair trade."
"I'll be the judge of what's fair, my boy."
Anakin scuffed his left heel against the dusty base of the counter.
"Okay," he said, sounding cooperative. With his arms behind his back, one
wrist over the other, he crossed his fingers. "I trade my 'droid for Mom's
"What?" C-3P0 exclaimed, coming to stand alongside his creator. His
audioreceptors must have glitched.
Watto hovered near Anakin's shoulder, the subtle flapping of his wings
feathered across the hopeful lad's face. "You call that fair?" he humored.
"Fair, when I already own him?"
Anakin looked devastated. "You?" He spun towards the 'droid, denial
embedded in his face. "What makes you think you--"
The Toydarian waved off the incompleted protest. "I owned him from the
moment you created him."
"That's not *true*!" Anakin railed, scorching Watto with a blistering
"Master Anni, I had no idea..."
Watto's watchful eyes fell upon C-3P0 "I let you keep him because of
your talent. You had worked so hard making him the wonder he is."
C-3P0 stood more erect, the commendation having gone straight to his
"But--but I'm not your slave anymore!" Anakin knew when he was being
swindled. "Threepio's mine!"
Watto didn't agree. "Only *your* freedom was won that fateful day. Not
your mother's, and not the 'droid's."
Demoralized, the young apprentice leaned in towards his creation, who
kept silent. "But if he's yours, why is he with Mom?" Anakin's stubborn
streak was still in full bloom.
Watto alighted upon the counter. For some reason, he seemed bluer today.
His flapping all but ceased. "I like Shmi, Anni. You know that. She's a
wonderful woman. I let the 'droid stay with her as a reward for all her
hard work. She misses you a lot. Having him with her reminds her of you.
I did it to make her happy. A small price to pay to keep her profitable,
Anakin felt like punching Watto in his greedy-looking face. "It's not
fair," he puled.
Looking at his former slave with detachment, Watto said, "In what ledger
is it written that anything has to be?"
Unable to find his voice, Anakin remained silent. There went his plan
for his mother's liberation. He looked away from Watto, wishing to throw
something heavy that would make a big racket as it broke on impact.
"Anni..." Watto said, but Anakin, wallowing in his dour thoughts, persisted
in targetting the far wall with his scowl. "There is a way to gain Shmi's
freedom..." The persuasive lilt of the deal broker had crept into his voice.
"It's what you want, isn't it?"
"How?" Anakin swung his face back around to Watto's.
"You take her place. She goes free." He rubbed his little claw-like
hands together. "You become my slave again. The way you should have continued
without that interfering Jedi Jinn swindling me!"
Indignant, Anakin defended, "He didn't swindle you!" Jumping off the
counter, he looked all set to clip Watto's jaw. "He won fair and square!
I won the race and you lost because you--you." In desperation, he flung
his hands up at the ceiling. "'Cause you just did, that's all."
Watto rode out Anakin's tirade patiently. Then, as though the returnee
hadn't lost his temper, he said, "So? What do you say? Shmi's freedom for
yours? Now *that's* fair."
Fair? The old conniver had some nerve using that word, Anakin groused,
thinking the sacrificial offer over. He loved his freedom, but he loved
his mother having hers more. He'd gone off, leaving her all alone here,
only thinking of himself. Here was his chance to right that. If her freedom
was going to cost him his, then so be it. Her freedom was more important.
She'd be free at last!
"Okay, Watto." The dealer was moving off of the counter. Anakin thrust
out his hand towards one of the trader's grappling hands. "You've got yourself
"We shake on it, it's done," Watto merrily stipulated, meeting Anakin's
"Uh...Master Anni, might I--"
"Not now, Threepio," Anakin overrode, preparing to place his hand in
"Bu-but, Master," the meddlesome 'droid persisted, "what would your
mother say to your--"
"Come on, Anni, let's shake."
Anakin restrained his hand from taking Watto's, which was poised to
cement the agreement.
The 'droid sensed that he had his creator's ear. "I think it would be
wiser for you to consul--"
"There is nothing to discuss," Watto interposed, aiming for Anakin's
hand. "My terms are my terms."
Over his 'droid's incessant chatter, Anakin rammed his hand into Watto's
and began pumping it vigorously.
"You won't be sorry, Anni," the Toydarian congratulated, summarily pleased.
"Trust me. This is the smartest decision you've ever made!"
The aspiring Jedi cast stormy eyes at his gawking handiwork. It wasn't
hard to see how much Anakin doubted his reinstated owner's grandiose statement.
It was getting quite late, and Anakin had not returned. Seeing old friends
was one thing, but this was ridiculous. Shmi stood in her humble abode's
doorway with arms akimbo. She cast anxious eyes up and down the well-traveled
pathways leading to her home. Muttering in halftones, she said, "Where
can he be?"
Obi-Wan, still poring over some star charts relative to a very remote
system he and Qui-Gon had once traveled to together, glanced up. "I'll
look for him if you like." He began thinking that he should have followed
his tardy apprentice.
Shmi shook her head, although wanting to take him up on his suggestion.
"No, Master Kenobi, it's all right. I'm sure he'll be along any moment
now. He hasn't seen his old friends for such a long time." Sighing, she
upheld, "When he's with them, he knows neither the day nor the hour."
Outside, the breeze was turning stiff. "Sounds as though a storm's brewing,"
Kenobi observed. "Really, I don't mind hunting him up. In fact, I'd better.
There's something in these holocharts I'd like him to see." He switched
off the flickering projection. There was a pronounced tremor in the Force.
His apprentice may have been born here, but his true origins, Obi-Wan felt,
lay elsewhere. "I'm off then," the Jedi told her definitively.
Shmi's entire demeanor changed. Gratefully, she replied, "Well, if you
wouldn't mind, I would appreciate it. I am beginning to worry."
Grinning at her by the door, he said, "You're not to. I'll track him
down," and he left.
Anakin stumbled upon his master little more than four footpaths from
his mother's. He paused in a busy intersection where getting lost in the
crowd was child's play. Kenobi was on the hunt, Anakin surmised, judging
from the intent look on his master's face. Not wanting to be found just
yet, Anakin ducked around another corner. Taking it at a run, he slipped
down an old shortcut; a by-pass less traveled.
He wished to speak to his mother without Obi-Wan being present. His
reason was obvious. He'd sold himself into slavery. He'd thrown his future
away. He didn't need his master glaring him in the face, telling him what
an incredibly stupid thing he'd done.
He skidded to a loping walk as he neared home. He spied Shmi framing
the doorway. The look in her eyes snatched his breath away. He'd had bad
feelings before whenever his mother's bearing could stop a charging Bantha
in its tracks.
"WHERE have you been?" In the same breath, she grilled, "Where is Threepio?"
Despite his strong resolve, he couldn't meet her eyes, starting off.
"V-visiting, Mom." Trying to sound glib, he continued, "Threepio stayed
behind at uh...Watto's." He heard his voice trail.
"At Watto's? Why?"
Sighing, Anakin shrugged, hoping his mother would let the subject of
the 'droid drop. He saw her visually dismiss C-3Po's absence; at least
for the moment. "Can I tell you later?" he prompted, his voice drawn.
"Do you realize how late it is?" Shmi harped.
"I'm sorry..." That sounded sincere.
"Where is your kindly instructor?"
"Master Obi-Wan?" Round-eyed, Anakin thought his mentor certainly had
his mother fooled.
"No. Jabba the Hutt's obnoxious uncle...Lyyloxi." Shmi stood aside to
let Anakin pass into the house. She swept the darkening surroundings visually
before closing the door. "Such a mannered young man. If you are giving
him a hard time, Anakin..."
"I'm not, Mom, I promise."
Not altogether convinced, Shmi went on, "He set out to look for you.
You didn't see him?"
Anakin had never lied to his mother a day in his life. He didn't intend
starting now. Omission was an entirely different thing. "I saw him, but
he didn't see me."
"Honest. He didn't look as if he needed me," Anakin glossed, his round
eyes rounding even more. "He looked very busy examining some novelty goods
on one of the stalls."
"He was looking for *you*." Shmi's sigh filtered through the air. Neither
of them spoke for several moments, wondering what was going through the
"Want me to get him?" he helpfully offered, hoping his mother would
tell him 'no.'
Sitting down at the table, giving Kenobi's holocubes more than a passing
glance, Shmi said, "Now that you're here, I want you to stay put. You can
begin helping me with dinner." She got up from the table, glad to be fixing
another of her son's favorite meals.
Anakin nodded as he began removing his dusty outer robe. Tatooine had
to be one of the grittiest planets in the galaxy. While laying his outer
garment over a pile of bound parchments, he said, "Mom...there's something
I have to tell you." Now was the time. After dinner, with his master ready
to pounce on his every word, would work against his purpose. At long last,
the person he loved most in the galaxy was free--finally free--at long
Shmi stopped rinsing the fresh greens strewn over the grooved prep board.
Fully attentive, she asked, "Yes, Anni?"
He took a deep breath, held it for a moment, and began, "I made an important
decision today." He caught the look of inquiry lodged in his mother's eyes,
and jutted out his chin. "It had to be made, Mom." A hardness couched itself
in his voice. "Had to be...because I..." Swallowing was difficult but he
managed to swallow down what felt to be a huge lump. "I..."
Shmi came away from her preparations, sensing her son's sudden fixation.
She hugged him, and when she sat down at the table again, she encouraged
him to sit in her lap the way he used to, before he'd begun to feel that
he was too old for that sort of babyish thing. "What decision did you make?"
she feathered over his soft hair. "Was it hard to make?"
"No, it wasn't!" Anakin wrapped his mother's hand up with both of his.
Her hand trembled witin his grasp. "Not by a long shot!"
"What did you decide?" With a gentle smile, Shmi squeezed his hands.
"I decided that I don't want to be free, and you're not. I made a deal
with Watto, Mom. I traded my freedom for yours. I'm his slave again. You're
free, Mom--you're free! You don't have to do what he or anybody else says
for as long as you live!"
Stunned, Shmi sat speechless, and several moments of deafening silence
ensued. Words tangled in her mind. Her son had gone mad.
"Mom, say something," Anakin begged, his eyes sparking a brighter blue.
Sensing her displeasure, he defended, "I did it for you! I can't stand
your being a slave anymore. That's why I came back. If we both can't be
free, I'd rather be one instead of you!"
"Oh, Anakin," Shmi wheezed.
"I mean it, Mom--I'll be a slave again so you can be free. It's what
Heaving another sigh, the touched woman said, "But, it's not what *I*
want for you, my dear." She kissed the crown of his perspired head. "I
want so much more for you. You, here, being a slave is far from what I
want for my gifted son." She burrowed her eyes into Anakin's intense gaze.
This time, she kissed the tip of his nose. "Your freedom meant mine. Freedom
from the pain of knowing that you could never have a future as long as
you remained here." She held him away. "Forgive me, precious son, but I
don't accept your sacrifice." She searched his perplexed-looking face.
"Did he refit you?"
Anakin shook his head. Watto had gotten sidetracked, having grumbled
about some familial concern. Anakin had finished up repairing a hydrogenerator
that had been barely salvageable. Before Anakin left the shop, Watto had
told him he'd see about fitting him with another restrainer tomorrow. He
was holding the boy to his promise about not sneaking away.
"Good." Shmi seized the sides of his arms. "Listen to me, Anakin. When
your Jedi master returns, you must return to Coruscant immediately."
"No, Anakin. I won't have you being a slave again, never again!" Shmi
rarely raised her voice, and when she did, she meant all that she spoke.
"Watto had no right making you that offer!" His eyes fell away from her
face. Jiggling him gently, she implored, "*Promise me*, Anakin. If my happiness
means anything at all to you...promise you'll leave tonight!"
Overcome by the intensity of his mother's emotion, Anakin wreathed his
arms about her neck and squeezed with all his might. He nodded, and began
sobbing as he vowed, "I promise, Mom. I promise." Then, sounding quelled,
he said, "I'll do what you want, Mom. I'll do whatever you want me to."
Shuddering against her, he expelled, "I wish we could both be free..."
Through unshed tears, Shmi replied scarsely above a whisper, "One day...dearest.
Perhaps we will...both of us. One day..."
"When I'm a real Jedi, I'm coming back to free you, Mom--promise! I'll
end slavery forever here!"
Kissing his furrowed brow, she acknowledged, "I know you will, Anni.
The greatness of your future is my happiness." Before Anakin had the chance
to say anything more, they heard a light rapping upon the front door. "That
sounds like your teacher." Anakin nodded and hugged her again. He obeyed
when she told him to go let him in. Just before he unlatched it, she uttered
one simple word. "Tonight."
The handsome Jedi ferreter entered, not at all surprised to see his
initiate letting him in. Following a wry twist of his lips, Obi-Wan offered,
"I had a positive feeling you were here ahead of me, my young apprentice."
Anakin noted the twinkling of his master's eyes. "Tell me, what have you
been up to since last I saw you?"
Mother's and son's eyes flitted to the other's face. Silently, she conveyed
to her child that she would speak for him. "Master Kenobi, I'd like to
discuss a delicate matter with you while Anakin bathes before dinner. Could
"Why of course." He watched his apprentice leave the room, then focused
his attention once again on her. "Now, what's on your mind?"
"May we sit?" Kenobi waited for her to seat herself. Shmi folded her
hands and stared at them.
"I sense you have a great deal on your mind, dear lady," Obi-Wan advanced,
patiently entertaining her sudden reticence, knowing she'd speak when she
was truly ready.
"Obi-Wan," the Jedi seamlessly insisted.
Fidgety then, Shmi caught her lower lip, which was quivering, between
"What is it?" It was as though the moment was suspended.
Shmi's eyes filled with tears that stung. Covering her face with her
hands, she began sobbing. Intuitively, Obi-Wan settled a hand upon her
shoulder and waited for her glut of tears to exhaust themselves. "I-it's...it's
Anakin." Her voice sounded tiny. "He...he is Watto's slave again. He traded
his freedom to gain mine."
The weight of his hand upon her shoulder increased as he hoped to lessen
her trembling. "There, there now. Take a deep breath." Soothingly, he advised,
"Ah, much better." Through the Force, he tried to allay the brunt of her
"Please, please, Master Obi-Wan you must take him from here this very
night. I won't have him being a slave ever again." Wistfully, she implored,
"You must take him back to Coruscant where his true future is; my dreams
of him becoming someone great will be realized."
Obi-Wan absorbed all of what he'd been told. This was a surprise. Interesting
how he had had no inkling of Anakin's furtive intentions way before this.
The boy's shields were improving to an impressive degree.
"I know that it is wrong for him to run away, after giving his word,
and after my telling him that Skywalkers don't behave like worthless criminals
doing just that." She targeted Obi-Wan's eyes with her riveting ones. "It
was scathing of Watto to barter with Anni like that in the first place."
She had talked herself raw. "He is still so young. He was only thinking
Nodding, Obi-Wan tempered, "Yes, always."
"He must be free, free to have the life I never had. He deserves so
much more than slavery."
Adopting her forthright tone, he said, "Without question, and he shall
have it." He stood, bringing her up with him. "I give you my word." As
Shmi exhaled, its issuance sounding of relief, Kenobi promised, "We'll
leave tonight, as you wish."
"Thank you, Master Obi-Wan. I am forever in your debt." Looking at him
shyly then, she said, "Anakin is indeed fortunate to have you for his mentor."
Obi-Wan felt a warmth bathe his face as he blushed in the ardor of her
admiration. Submissively, he lifted her hand to his lips and placed a kiss
upon her gnarled knuckles. It was she who blushed then. Stuttering a little,
Shmi informed, "I'll fix him his second favorite meal, and you'll leave."
Thoughtfully, Obi-Wan offered, "Technically, you're free, dear lady.
If I can somehow locate the device that threatens your existence, might
you consider leaving with us?" He blinked, chastising himself for voicing
such a critical error in judgment. He could hear the Jedi Council members
demanding to know the meaning of his bringing along the chosen one's mother
to nuture their bond instead of neutralizing it.
Shmi shook her head, leaving no room for doubt. "I will remain here.
I refuse to sink to the seedy chisler's level. That's just something I
won't do. I'll tell him that Anakin changed his mind about being a slave
again after *I* convinced him that he should."
"I am assuming that they shook on the deal." No matter where one hailed
from in the galaxy, a gentlemen's agreement was universal.
Standing away from the table, she went to attend to her preparations.
"Once Anakin is gone, there is nothing he can do about it," Shmi said,
her tone flat. She began humming a tune that sounded vaguely familiar to
Obi-Wan regarded her with expediency. He was glad he had had the chance
to meet such a substantial woman. It was lamentable indeed that such a
great lady was forced to live her life enslaved. If only she...
The Force pervaded his thoughts, and it occurred to him then that one
day she would be free, forever. When he opened his eyes, he saw Anakin
and Shmi embracing. The boy's skin glistened, looking well- scrubbed. His
hair was damp, and Shmi kissed his sweet-smelling crown. With a smile she
murmured into his scalp, "Peel the 'tubisches' for me, Anni?"
Anakin nodded against her waist, with his eyes still tightly shut. "Sure
The twin moons lounged at their zeniths in the obsidian sky whose stars
seemed to glitter rhythmically. The storm that Obi-Wan had casually predicted
had never materialized. The air was languid and balmy in its stillness.
Few sounds carried this night.
The travel-worn streets, somber with deep shadows, were deserted at
this sleepy hour. The three elusive figures moved swiftly. They too made
no sounds, bound as they were for one of many nondescript bays where Obi-Wan
had permitted Anakin to land the sleek Jedi vessel.
Before advancing closer to the ship, Anakin tugged on his mother's dress.
"Mom...I don't like having you travel these dark streets alone once we're
"I'll be fine, Anni." With a reassuring hand, she coaxed him onward.
"Home's not far."
Unconvinced, Anakin, voiced his disapproval over her having to fend
for herself. Obi-Wan anchored his hands on each of their shoulders, and
assured Shmi, "You have my word, no harm shall come to you."
She smiled first at her son, then Obi-Wan. "I thank you, Master Obi-Wan."
She jiggled her son's jutting chin. "You should trust your instructor more."
Anakin thought that over before nodding; trust wasn't the issue. The issue
was that of reasonability. "Now, no more dawdling," she persuaded. "The
sooner you're aboard your ship, putting as much distance between yourselves
and here, the better I'll feel."
The trio moved closer to the silhouetted Jedi spacecraft. Kenobi was
glad they'd be heading back. Although he had enjoyed the brief stay, he
was anxious to resume his Padawan's training in surroundings more suitable.
He sensed Anakin's and his mother's strong overflow of emotions, and turned
away from them. With his handheld controls, he activated the ramp, and
the spheroid gangway settled down as it plumed out.
He turned back again to Shmi. He gripped both of her arms. "I won't
fail your son, m'lady. You have my solemn pledge. He will complete his
training, pass the Trials and become a Jedi Knight, or I'll die in the
The tears that swam in her eyes looked eager to fall. She nodded fiercely,
and some fell despite her effort to contain them. She repeated over and
over how grateful she was, which succeeded in turning Obi-Wan's face a
"I consider training him a priviledge." He released her and hurried
off to the ship, feeling tears in his eyes collecting. He heard Anakin
"I don't want to leave you, Mom! Can't you just come?" he urged, his
whine plaintive. "*Please*?" As the moments passed, he gripped her waist
tighter. "I can't leave without you!"
"I know that, Anni, but you must." Sighing, she squatted, leveling her
beneficent gaze even with his eyes. "You're my hope for the future. Only
by going away can you make that happen." Anakin sniffled against her. Softly,
she broached, "Anni...dearest, you must promise me something."
"Anything, Mom. Anything at all," he promptly responded, sounding muffled.
Slowly, she said, "You must not return here until you are fully a Jedi."
Her insistence was veiled by tender caresses and kisses to the sides of
his head. "Promise me, Anakin."
Stubbornly, he vowed that he would return as one of the most powerful
Jedi ever, to free her. The vehemence in his vow startled her. She hugged
him as fiercely as he hugged her. "You'll never be a slave again, Mom,
*never*! I swear it!"
The firing up of the ship's engines caught both of them off guard. A
little harried, Shmi said, "Off with you then." She rose from her squat
and took several steps back. She smiled though her heart was breaking.
Anakin literally felt his heart heave within his chest. This second
time saying good-bye was even harder than when he'd said it that first
time. He rushed into her arms one more time, and then sprinted to the pre-flight
craft that was primed for immediate lift-off.
"'Bye, Mom--I love you!" he yelled at the top of his lungs, over the
piercing pule of straining thrusters that champed for flight.
"I love you so much too, Anni." She cupped her hands around her mouth.
"You mean everything to me!"
"I'm coming back as soon as I can! I won't fail you!" Waving frantically,
he had one last look of her before racing up the ramp, erasing himself
With a heavy heart, Shmi watched the ship lift to begin its sharp climb.
Once it had gained escape altitude and velocity, it was gone faster than
forked lightning. She felt sad, but Anakin's words comforted her. They
would repeat within her, over and over, until her pride and joy made them
He would return. He would be powerful, noble, valiant and true. He was
her son; her dawn of a better day. One day the pain of separation would
be a forgotten thing of the past.
Sighing, she thought, some day...